What did you watch this week (w/e December 16)?

Dustin Hoffman and Michael Mann

Time for “What did you watch this week?”, my chance to tell you what I watched this week that I haven’t already reviewed and your chance to recommend things to everyone else (and me) in case we’ve missed them.

The A-Team: Misfits, Modern Family, Happy Endings, and Homeland.

The B-Team: Dexter and Rev.

Yes, we’re back on Fridays, mainly because everyone seems to be sticking the good stuff on TV on Sundays and I don’t watch things live, but also because Mondays can be a bit tricky for me whereas Fridays are a lot easier.

Anyway, a few thoughts on what I’ve been watching:

  • Luck: So this should be TV gold. Michael Mann and David Milch behind the camera; Dustin Hoffman, Dennis Farina, Nick Nolte et al in front; and it’s all set in the high stakes world of horse racing and gambling. Yet was it incredibly dull? Yes. Could barely sit through it. It probably didn’t help that everyone mumbled their lines so I couldn’t make out what most of the cast were saying. This was just the pilot: the series itself starts in January on HBO, but I won’t be tuning in. Ratings were pretty poor, too, so don’t expect it to last more than a season.
  • American Horror Story: Yes, still watching. It’s largely been crud and I’ve forward wound through lots of it. This week’s episode, written by Tim Minear, however, was about half-tolerable (the second half, to be precise).
  • I Hate My Teenage Daughter: Episode two was actually more palatable than episode 1 but also more boring. Standard sitcom set-up, you can understand why some people might like it, but ultimately so bereft of redeeming qualities, such as laughs, the whole thing is so bad, I had to give up after about five minutes.
  • Dexter: The show’s stupidest season limps towards its conclusion. Even more implausible than last year’s season finale in terms of plotting and character, on top of that, we have (spoiler alert) Debs fancying Dexter. Ew! I think I’m going to tap out after the end of the season, unless someone tells me there’s a great big pick up in quality next season. Bye, Dexter, it was nice knowing you.
  • Homeland: Thank Apollo and the Muses themselves for Homeland, TV drama’s almost sole redeeming show at the moment. Excellent work by Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin this week. It should be fascinating to see where they go with it on Sunday and the next season.
  • Misfits: A fun episode that’s best not thought about too hard.
  • Rev: Sometimes I wonder why I’ve developed this Pavlovian conditioned reflex towards British TV of late. I just can’t face watching it, even if it could be really good (Dark Mirror, Downton Abbey, etc). I’m starting to think it’s shows like Rev that are part of the problem. I really liked the first series of Rev. It was refreshing and fun. The first episodes were the best and there were some hints of cringe comedy towards the end, but it was a really good show. Come the second series and it’s become cringe comedy, miserable and like having a tooth pulled. You get lured in and then you get crushed. That’s the real reason we only have six episodes per series in the UK: we’re almost fundamentally incapable, it seems, of writing more than about six good episodes of something. Grr.

And in movies:

  • Universal Soldier: Regeneration: Now, I know what you’re thinking. What on earth possessed me, particularly since the first movie wasn’t really the greatest, to watch its third (or is it the fourth) sequel? Well, it was there. But guess what: despite being toplined by Andrei ‘The Pitbull’ Arlovski, Universal Soldier: Regeneration is actually better than all the other Universal Soldier movies put together, as well as the likes of Terminator 3. It’s smarter, more thoughtful, has better action scenes and is shot in the style of The Bourne Supremacy. Very weird. The second half loses it a little, with all the set-up essentially dropped in favour of fights, and Dolph Lundgren’s appearance is basically a cameo but actually a reasonable low-budget action movie.

And in books

  • The Good, the Bad and the Multiplex: I finally finished reading it. It’s okay. Not great. Just okay. Lacks a lot of the humour of a proper Kermode rant, so it’s just him throwing out facts and saying things are rubbish.
  • Bad Science: Ben Goldacre’s take-down of media reporting, nutritionists, et al. Overly technical in style at times, it’s not so much “bad science” as “bad medicine” but it should be compulsory reading for anyone who’s ever read a food story in the paper and believed it. I’m up to the chapter on Gillian McKeith – that should be fun.

“What did you watch this week?” is your chance to recommend to friends and fellow blog readers the TV and films that they might be missing or should avoid – and for me to do mini-reviews of everything I’ve watched. Since we live in the fabulous world of Internet catch-up services like the iPlayer and Hulu, why not tell your fellow readers what you’ve seen so they can see the good stuff they might have missed?


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

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